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Gideon Ouseley (1762-1839)

Gideon Ouseley was born at Dunmore, County Galway, Ireland, son of an anti-clerical member of the gentry and a devout mother. He was privately educated for a career in the Anglican Church but failed to win a place at Trinity College, Dublin. He married into a wealthy family but squandered his fortune through loose living and unsuccessful litigation.

Ouseley lost his eye in a shooting accident and was finally converted in 1791 by Methodist soldiers and after reading Young's Night Thoughts.

He laboured for a time as an independent evangelist, but in the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 he was invited by the Irish Methodist Conference to join a team of Irish-speaking preachers working specifically among the Roman Catholic poor.

Ouseley was an evangelist of tremendous ability. His ambition was to preach in every settlement in Ireland and it was not unusual for him to travel several thousand miles a year, preaching between twelve and fifteen sermons a week. An eccentric figure, Ouseley had a gift for communicating with the poorest members of rural society, with whom he felt an intense sympathy.

Ouseley inherited his father's anti-clericalism and carried on a long pamphlet controversy with the Roman Catholic Church.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography 1739-1860 edited by Donald M. Lewis (1995)

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